ArtWorks needs your help shaping Cincinnati’s public art future

ArtWorks is making a final push to get Greater Cincinnati residents to help catalog all the murals, sculptures, statues and other forms of public art that currently exist across the region. The goal is to identify areas for new pieces and also uncover “hidden gems” well-deserving of celebration.

The nonprofit began its year-long New Monument Initiative audit in early 2023. 

Over the past several months, Asha White – a local artist, curator and member of Black Art Speaks – has been working on the project with a team of 10 young adult artists, aged 18 to 24, in ArtWorks’ Civic Arts Studio. The group has attended nearly 20 community events, such as Asian Food Fest in downtown, to collect information. They’ve also sought to begin a conversation with residents about the role public art plays in honoring the history and uniqueness of a community.

White described the survey as essential to “[giving] voices to the public art of the future.”

The initiative is in its final weeks, and White and ArtWorks are working to ensure all of Greater Cincinnati receives representation by filling out its survey. The group wants feedback from all of the region’s residents, but especially anyone living in an area considered “under-resourced,” White said.

White hopes to gather responses from at least 5,000 residents by the time the survey closes on Oct. 31.

“The work we have done over this past year has been very intentional,” she added. “We have worked to connect with marginalized communities by establishing partnerships to best reach our target demographic.”

ArtWorks Civic Art Studio leader Asha White (R) surveys a community member about public art at the Asian Food Festival.
ArtWorks Civic Art Studio leader Asha White surveys a community member.

To help incentivize participation, the Civic Arts Studio team is offering a chance at prizes for anyone who completes the survey before Sept. 25. Prizes include a ticket for an ArtWorks mural tour, a ticket to ArtWorks’ Art Off the Walls fundraiser or a $20 Kroger gift card.

To qualify, a person must complete the survey in full. That means you’ll have to add your name and email as well. ArtWorks also created a shorter version of the survey to simplify the process. 

ArtWorks plans to hold an event in January 2024 to unveil the final report. 

“People deserve to be represented and to have a say in the ways they are represented,” said Aspen Stein, a Civic Studio artist. “Our work is important because we are creating more opportunities for the people of Cincinnati to have more ownership over this beautiful city.”

ArtWorks' newest mural "Love Wins" being painted at Queen City Radio in Over-the-Rhine.
The “Love Wins” mural under construction in Over-the-Rhine

The New Monument Initiative aligns with ArtWorks’ strategic mission to provide year-round employment opportunities for artists of all ages while helping to grow access to art across the city.

Over the past 27 years, ArtWorks artists has been vital to the creation of what the organization describes as a “citywide gallery.” The collection features more than 14,000 public and private art projects, including more than 300 permanent outdoor murals.

Data from the public audit will go to the New Monuments Advisory Committee, which consists of leaders from the business, government, social welfare and education sectors. The group’s analysis of the survey will guide ArtWorks’ public art efforts in the future.

Support for the New Monuments Initiative came from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and the Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile, Jr. Foundation.

“Monuments tell us about what a society values,” White said. “It’s so important to have robust and diverse feedback when considering the future of monuments, so that we have a wide breadth of viewpoints on what our community values and holds dear.”

ArtWorks’ New Monuments Survey